I don’t remember much of my life before preschool. I’m not sure how many people (besides my uncannily-remembering husband) have many memories pre-three. Here are my three earliest memories:

1. Taking a walk with my mother, just the two of us holding hands on a sidewalk and my mama pointing out all the things to me as you do with a spongy toddler, so eager and willing to look where you’re pointing. And there we were side-by-side on that sidewalk when Mama says, “Oh! Look at that caterpillar,” and I looked and just as quickly, I stomped. Right on top of that caterpillar and said, “Ew. Yuck.”

2. I remember being inside my grandparents’ house. I know now they lived in Michigan, but that’s certainly not part of my memory. I only remember being on the inside on the other side of the front door, not the porch or the door itself, just the physical beingness, the noticing of a place to sit immediately in front of me. It might have been a bench or a sofa; I don’t know. I recall it lined up against the wall that stretched from the front door and that wall ended abruptly where the stairs went up on the left. Straight ahead was the kitchen. But my memory is sitting on that — let’s call it a bench — with my Pop Pop. I was little and he was holding me on his lap, laughing.

3. Preschool I remember like it was yesterday. Well, that’s not entirely true. I remember preschool playtime. I actually have no memory of class time with our teacher, Miss Libby, whose basement was converted to a play and learning room. I just remember lots of color, and it was probably the all primary colors carpet. I can still sing you the song My primary colors are one, two, three — red, yellow, and blue. The sliding glass doors opened onto a backyard playground as vast as my imagination, with a swing set + slide, a monkey gym for climbing, and a real boat! Miss Libby’s sheepdog loved the backyard as much as we did, spending the entire playtime walking the perimeter of the fully-fenced yard, never interfering with our games, but always keeping an eye on us to be sure no one was lost, missing, hurt, or being left out. 

As was our recess ritual, once we passed through the sliding glass doors of our basement classroom into the great expanse of backyard possibilities, we magically morphed into mighty superheroes, capable of any feat requiring strength, heroic acts of bravery, and daring escapes. 

I only get to go to Miss Libby’s two more times before we are all done. Before I’m one of the big kids, and ride the school bus at the top of the street, and go to kindergarten. But Mama says big girls do not suck their thumb and only big girls ride the school bus. But I just really like sucking my thumb. 

It has to be today I decide while rushing toward the open sliding glass door. I make sure I’m the first one to the treasure chest to pick the shiny gold cape I now slide over my head and onto my shoulders. I take big enough steps fast enough to see my cape fly up behind me. I walk/run straight to the swings, my heart racing against my own legs with anticipation, to the one in the middle and I sit down in the center of the seat. I tug the cape out from under me and quietly sing one of Daddy’s favorite campfire songs to myself, the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone — the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone, while moving my two legs to scooch forward to the seat’s edge until I feel my legs drop where they’re connected to my hip bone, like a hinge. 

The tips of my toes now reach the ground and I’m a ballerina wearing the most beautiful satin slippers with pink ribbons wrapping around my ankles. I reach and stretch my toes connected to my feet, connected to my legs, and the push-me-pull-you action bends me at my knees, my two hands making tight fists around the chains fixed at my sides. The seat is holding me! I am moving! Faster and faster like I’m Flash Gordon! My toes brush against the ground, my feet are up, my legs are working, bending backward and forward, and with Shep the Sheepdog as my witness, I am flying, my golden cape billowing behind me.